Hey there! Let’s take a look into our modern pig farm!
My family is known for being hog farmers. My father-in-law built his first farrow to finish barn in 1977 and that initiated our love and pride in this specific avenue of agriculture. We raise pigs for a company called Indiana Packers Corp, out of Delphi, IN. You can find our pork products that we raise in your local grocery store under the brand name Indiana Kitchen. I am very proud of how we raise and care for all of our pigs. It is something that our entire family helps with and that has created strength and unity for our farm.
Our barns are what are called “finisher barns.” Finisher barns are where weaned piglets come to us from the nursery and grow with us until they reach market weight. Market weight is somewhere around 280lbs. Are pigs come in via a semi truck from a particular nursery in Indiana, at this time the pigs weigh around 12-15lbs. It takes about 6 months for the pigs to grow to market weight.
The barns are disinfected, cleaned, and organized in preparation for new pigs. Each barn can hold 4000 pigs! Special precautions are taken to keep our pigs healthy during their stay with us. To prevent germs from entering the barns, we wear clothes that are specific only for pig barn use, boots that are only specified for the pig barn, we disinfect our boots before entering the barns, and we shower before and after leaving the barn.
Recently, or maybe I should say through the past couple of years, there has been a lot of discussion with how livestock is raised. Education is crucial and as farmers we truly want to be transparent with consumers who have questions. With all the social media, various marketing campaigns, certain high profile figures spewing their opinion about; it is hard to decipher fact from fiction. I actually just googled how pigs are raised & everything that came up was negative! It is now time for a positive! Like I said earlier, I am so proud of what we do. Our lives literally revolve around caring for these pigs and I am thankful to be able to share this with you all.
Our pigs are raised in a controlled environment. For example, the temperature is regulated so that the pigs are constantly in a environment that is conducive to positive health and growth. Let’s say it is a hot summer day, the fans run for the pigs and we even have misters that will turn on and really help keep the pigs cool. Perfect fall temperature day, the curtains on the barns drop- the sunlight pours in the building, the pigs sun themselves and enjoy the breeze. Blizzard like conditions (we do live in Indiana!)- curtains up, heaters on! When our baby pigs first arrive in our barn , they even have heat lamps & mats that they get to cozy up under! The baby pigs love to cozy up together on the mats and enjoy the heat lamps with all their pen mates.
Let’s talk about the waste from the pigs. This is actually a very positive part of pig farming!
Can you see above the slats in the floor where that piglet is standing? Waste from the pigs drops down through these slats into a concrete pit. When the pit starts to fill up, we suction out the waste and apply it to our tillable ground. This “waste” from the pigs is amazing and crucial nutrients for our crops, such as corn. The corn grows beautifully in ground that has been injected with hog waste and in turn, the corn gets ground into grain, and the pigs eat the grain. The circle of life!
Yes, we give our pigs antibiotics-only if they are need! Just like you would take care of and treat your own child with a medication if they needed it to feel better, we do the same with our pigs. This seems to be a hot topic right now, the use of antibiotics or any other sort of additive. Let me be clear, nothing is put into the pig that is not needed. Why? Because we care about our animals, we would not be in this line of work if our hearts were not in line with caring for our animals! Not to mention, the cost of doing such a thing is counterproductive. If a pig is sick, sometimes we separate them from their pen mates, monitor their eating and drinking patterns, and if necessary, we treat them with an antibiotic. We also have licensed & credible veterinarians at our every call if the need would arise. Please note, proper withdrawal time is always met. This means, we are required to have a certain amount of days that a pig has not been treated with an antibiotic (or other medication, such as an anti-inflammatory) before slaughter. This time allows all the antibiotic to be emptied from the pigs system and therefore is safe for the consumer. Read more here about withdrawal times.
Our pigs are feed a diet of grain that changes with them as they grow. We work directly with the local feed mill when grain needs ordered and delivered.
We love what we do, from start to finish. Caring for our pigs is who we are. Questions? Let me know! And check out Indiana Kitchen pork products-that is our pigs!
p.s. Happy National Ag Week!